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kBOS Unified Solutions

 

Business requirements for unified solutions

The ultimate goal of every organisation is to operate in a unified way with optimum utilisation of resources in efficiently and controllable processes within the enterprise, and between the enterprise and its customers and business partners. Today this has to be achieved electronically and the organisation has to become a Real Time Enterprise to compete in the global knowledge economy.

Sustainable competitiveness is critically dependent on “time” considerations.  This means that any changes in customer needs and competitor products must be understood fast.  New products must then be designed and produced rapidly exploiting the latest technology.  Customer perception of the new products must be evaluated quickly in order to refine marketing strategies and/or products. Additional responsiveness characteristics (e.g. technology responsiveness, geographical responsiveness, network flexibility, etc.) are also important for the performance of the Real Time Enterprise.

 

The necessary technology (albeit in various degrees of maturity) to achieve these goals is already available. However the transformation to an efficient Real Time Enterprise is a long and difficult road and success is critically dependent on the strategy and the adopted design and implementation platform.

 

The challenge

The basic solution challenge is the provision of a network-based software platform/infrastructure that supports:

a)      the linking of application systems and trading partners in real-time at the business-process (not just communications) level applying the zero latency enterprise (ZLE) and straight-through processing (STP) principles;

b)      the implementation of knowledge management strategies as part of a unified solution;

c)      the flexible introduction of new/revised processes and new technologies/applications. 

 

From a business perspective, many solutions today remain expensive and anticipated benefits are often not realised (see Poor performance of high technology spenders). The main cause continues to be attributed to ‘technology push’ approach of the large solution providers.

 

More specifically the following two crucial shortcomings can be identified by reviewing the popular solutions:

a)     lack of control oriented approaches;

b)     lack of approaches focusing on early deliverables and early business benefits. 

 

The kBOS Approach

Focus on business control

The goals of organisational responsiveness and generally for Real time Enterprises point to solutions based on theories for control systems.  Indeed, a systems view of the organisation is the basis for building the responsive enterprise.  Much work in this area has emphasised the need to address both the social and technical interactions in the organisational system through learning processes. 

 

Feedback is a common “change control” mechanism for most engineering systems.  The operation of cars, aeroplanes, engines and many types of electrical appliances and instruments used in every day life is based on feedback control.  Systems response is controlled through compensation reflecting difference between design and actual value of feedback loop measurements.  Dynamic control is obviously more difficult in the context of organisational/business complexity. This complexity arises from the interdependence of business, management and technological variables and creates serious difficulties in defining control criteria (i.e. measurement (s) of the organisation system performance) and the feedback loop(s) associated with the selected criterion or criteria.

The control process

The kBOS methodological framework for unified solutions advocates the use of a business control model  and associated process application to synchronise critical processes and support applications.

 

The control model addresses the following three aspects:

a)    monitoring: feedback signals that characterise the system’s performance

b)    primary control: setting control criteria

c)    optimisation: determine best control measures

 

The basic steps for the control process are:

a)      identifying the need to make a change;

b)      establishing adequate knowledge about change;

c)      assessing the impact of change on other elements of the environment

d)      making change acceptable to all affected elements

e)      recording details and rationale of change for future reference;

f)       measuring the impact of change

 

Control variables must reflect different business perspectives which are represented by  a set of business models included in the methodology. These models provide the understanding / rationalisation of the interdependencies between the business and software components and a blueprint for integrating applications across the organisation and for developing new ones within a unified solution.

 

High-level Architecture

The following diagram attempts to consolidate elements of the methodology (models),  the kBOS platform (components and tools) and their topology to depict a high-level view of the kBOS Unified Solution.

The architecture reflects a Business Network consisting of Co-ordination and Participant nodes. To balance the workload on all participants in an optimum way, all data and application adaptation services are located on the participant nodes. The co-ordinating node is mostly used as a central repository of common data and information, as well as a look-up service. The communication at the application level is achieved through standard Web Services, and at higher level through web portals that provide information in the context of the business network, (including active process information and state, controller feedback etc) to the end users.

 

 




   
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